By Marylin Silverman
When your eyes look high up into the sky, increasingly towering buildings are reaching higher and higher. This is, of course, a good thing for the economy. But the detrimental impact on the very health of their builders—the members of that division of the business sector—construction—is not a good thing. These workers are plagued by a serious medical condition—concussions or traumatic brain injury known by its acronym—TBI. Before the walls, ceilings and floors are installed they face the very threat of falling from great heights to the hard pavement below or being struck in the head by weighty steel beams. You walk past construction sites during your daily routines and what do you see? Construction workers wearing that traditional headpiece — a hard hat. So naturally, you wonder, how they can sustain such a serious brain injury?
Here’s one reason:
As per Brain Injury Society, those helmets “can’t protect you if you don’t wear them at all times or if you wear inferior or damaged hard hats.” Why would construction workers keep their heads unprotected if they risk such devastating injuries? Sometimes, workers can’t afford proper hats, especially non-unionized workers, they may forget or simply, don’t know better and also, sadly, employers exploit them and don’t care.
How Common Are Concussions?
Just how common are concussions in construction? Here are some answers from some respected sources:
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the construction industry has the highest number of TBIs on the job. A study they conducted regarding TBIs happening in the U.S. workplace in the years spanning 2003-2008, represents the first comprehensive nationwide profile of fatal TBIs. This is certainly shocking and inexplicable.
As per Brain Injury Institute, “20% of TBI -related-workplace injuries are from falls that occur on surfaces that are uneven, wet or have out of place objects— all that occurs on construction sites.” Where else?
What Are Concussions?
So, what are concussions? As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are “caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth…can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull creating chemical changes in the brain.”
Concussions, however, are not just idiosyncratic of construction. The following disturbing statistics prove that. As per CDC, 3.8 million concussions occur every single year. They are pretty common among those who engage in sports, particularly football, but also from bicycle riding; vehicular accidents; falls; and then these categories of workers suffer as well: firefighters, police officers, loading dock workers, and delivery drivers. When children fall off their bicycles they playfully and innocently ride down their block, this is particularly dangerous since their motor skills are still in the developmental stage.
As per Life Changing Medicine, our frail senior citizens are increasingly falling and being diagnosed with concussions. “The medical community is only beginning to recognize the frequency of concussions in older adults.”
As per CDC, 14.3% of all concussions result from motor vehicle mishaps due to violent shaking and sudden movement of the head and upper body, being thrown out of the vehicle, or striking the head against the window or other parts of the car. You must always remember that you can file a personal injury claim in the event you are in a car accident. The brave men and now women who are our warriors in wars being fought around the world according to Military.com are also concussion sufferers.
According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, “Military service members are …deployed to areas where they are at risk for experiencing blast exposure from improvised explosive devices, suicide bombers, land mines, mortar rounds, and rocket-propelled grenades-all puts them at increased risk for TBI.” Pro Publica states that, “traumatic brain injury has been called the signature wound of the wars in Iran and Afghanistan.”
So, in essence, concussions are an exceedingly common medical condition; its sufferers are not just your favorite football players; furthermore, the medical community is just now beginning to direct its attention to concussions within the workplace community.
What Are the Signs of a Concussion?
Concussions can be tricky to diagnose. Though you may have a visible cut or bruise on your head, you can’t actually see a concussion. Signs may not appear for days or weeks after the injury. Some symptoms last for just seconds; others may linger.
There is some common physical, mental, and emotional symptoms a person may display following a concussion. Any of these could be a sign of traumatic brain injury:
- Confusion or feeling dazed
- Slurred speech
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Ringing in ears
- Concentration difficulties
- Memory loss
Concussions Are Very Serious
According to Injury Claims Coach, “Head injuries are not a joke. If you’ve taken a blow to the head, don’t try to brush it off, act tough or assume you’re okay.” Do not delay medical treatment since it is dangerous obviously from a medical perspective, but it could also undermine your worker compensation claim. “The insurance company will jump at the chance to argue that your injury didn’t happen on the job.”
If you have suffered a concussion, you should immediately contact the Law Firm of Figeroux & Associates at 855-768-8845. Remember: the law firm you hire does make a difference.
Workers’ World Today is a free publication that empowers all workers, regardless of social or political affiliations. Distributed throughout New York City, our paper has a mission to educate workers and provide them with relevant information pertinent to the workforce such as workers’ compensation, discrimination on the job, workers’ rights, and more.